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Pain Med. 2013 Apr;14(4):516-25. doi: 10.1111/pme.12057. Epub 2013 Feb 25.

Swim therapy reduces mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia induced by chronic constriction nerve injury in rats.

Author information

1
Departments of Neurosciences, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Neuropathic pain is common and often difficult to treat because it generally does not respond well to the currently available pain medications or nerve blocks. Recent studies in both humans and animals have suggested that exercise may induce a transient analgesia and reduce acute pain in normal healthy individuals. We examined whether swim therapy could alleviate neuropathic pain in rats.

DESIGN:

Rats were trained to swim over a 2-week period in warm water. After the rats were trained, neuropathic pain was induced by constricting the right sciatic nerve, and regular swimming was resumed. The sensitivity of each hind paw was monitored using the Hargreaves test and von Frey test to evaluate the withdrawal response thresholds to heat and touch.

RESULTS:

The paw ipsilateral to the nerve ligation expressed pain-like behaviors including thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia. Regular swim therapy sessions significantly reduced the mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. Swim therapy had little effect on the withdrawal thresholds for the contralateral paw. In addition, swim therapy alone did not alter the thermal or mechanical thresholds of normal rats.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results suggest that regular exercise, including swim therapy, may be an effective treatment for neuropathic pain caused by nerve injuries. This study, showing that swim therapy reduces neuropathic pain behavior in rats, provides a scientific rationale for clinicians to test the efficacy of exercise in the management of neuropathic pain. It may prove to be a safe and cost-effective therapy in a variety of neuropathic pain states.

PMID:
23438327
PMCID:
PMC3625453
DOI:
10.1111/pme.12057
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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